plagiarism cartoon

Introduction - What is Plagiarism?

According to, plagiarism is more than just copying someone else's work without giving a citation. Legally, expression of original ideas whether they be written, forms of art, etc. are considered intellectual property and afforded copyright protection if they have been preserved as a publication, as a written document or even as a file on a computer.

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to plagiarize means

  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own
  • to use (another's production) without crediting the source
  • to commit literary theft
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source

In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else's work and lying about it afterward.

All of the following are considered plagiarism:

  • turning in someone else's work as your own
  • copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see Fair Use)

The description above is taken directly from a work which grants me permission to copy it for dissemination purposes as long as I credit it with the URL of the original source ( This would fall into the category of a Creative Commons work. (The cartoon at the top of this page is a Creative Commons work as well. Learn about the Creative Commons here).

Plagiarism is a Serious Matter

The penalties for plagiarism can be severe, and it does not matter if the plagiarism was unintentional or not. Ignorance of what constitutes plagiarism is not an adequate defense that will save the plagiarist from penalties. At an academic institution, plagiarism can result in failing an assignment, failing a class or even being expelled from the university. A student who is expelled for plagiarism from one institution will likely not be admitted into another to complete his/her degree. In addition, a notation concerning the infraction can be made on the student's transcript (even if they have not been expelled from the institution) which will follow them impacting future employment opportunities. No one will want to hire a person who has been found to be dishonest. It goes without saying that a person found to plagiarize in a professional setting will be dismissed from their position likely ending his/her career.

Plagiarism can also result in legal action being taken against against the plagiarist resulting in fines as high as $50,000 and a jail sentence of up to one year. More serious offenses in which the plagiarist earns money of more than $2,500 can result in a felony conviction with fines up to $250,000 and a jail term up to 10 years.

Plagiarizing is simply not worth the risk. What follows are some tutorials and exercises that will help you learn more about what constitutes plagiarism and learn how to properly quote, paraphrase and summarize research sources so you do not commit acts of plagiarism. You need to complete the tutorials and work the exercises presented in each of the following resources.

Plagiarism Materials

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Assignment To Be Turned In:

You are to complete an online plagiarism quiz which you access here. You must take the quiz as many times as needed to earn a score of 100%. When you have completed the quiz with a perfect score, you are to submit a screenshot showing that you correctly answered all the questions along with the Student Writing Conduct Agreement form indicating that you understand what plagiarism is and understand the consequences that will occur if you do commit an act of plagiarism. You can access the form here.

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Direct suggestions, comments, and questions about this page to Arlene Courtney,
Last Modified January 1, 2021